Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Two Quick Takes on MP4 Players and Non-Mehadrin Buses

Just a couple of quick takes on things that are happening. I may expand on these in later posts:

Banning MP4 players

It's been reported that MP4 players have been banned by rabbonim in Israel because of the possibility of accessing inappropriate content. This, of course, is on top of the ban on DVD players, computers, the Internet, and cellphones that aren't technologically frozen in the late 1980s.

Whenever there is a new technology available, there are two possible approaches to take:

(a) An outright ban
(b) A cautious acceptance with education

What are the possible outcomes of these approaches? My guess would be as follows:

(a) Some people will adhere to the ban while others will secretly disobey it. As the technology becomes more common in the mainstream, it will eventually filter into the hareidi society as well. Since there is an outright ban on the devices, no education on how to use it responsibly will be given. Youngsters may stumble onto content that they should not be accessing and, not having had any guidance in how to avoid it or why it is to be avoided, will stumble into it. Eventually, as the devices become common enough to be owned openly, you will have large numbers of people who have already clandestinely been viewing things they should not.

(b) Educate people on the dangers of having such devices. Teach them that it's better that they not own them and explain why. Play to the positives (i.e.... "It's not befitting a yid to waste his time watching videos. You're above that...") not the negatives. Encourage them to act responsibly. Will there be some who will go and search out bad stuff anyway? Of course there will... but I'm willing to bet that most of them will be the same people who would do so under the other scenario.

What's the best answer in the short term? Probably the first one. However, I think it completely fails in the long term - and this is the type of problem that you want a long term solution for... not a short term one.

In many ways, I'm grateful that the telephone was invented over a hundred years ago, otherwise, there would be people banning it now (after all, you could use it to call a member of the opposite sex).

(Yes, I know I ignored the vandalism aspect of the story. Perhaps I'll address it later.)

Women and Public Transportation

There are reports that rabonnim in Israel are trying to create additional mehadrin buses by encouraging the Bais Ya'akov girls to monopolize the back of non-mehadrin buses, thus forcing men to sit in the front. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how this would really change matters... after all, there is still nothing preventing a woman from sitting in the front of a non-mehadrin bus and nothing preventing a man from sitting in a spare seat he finds in the back. In addition, how are they to enforce this? Will they start punishing Bais Ya'akov girls whom they find riding in the front?

In any event, I personally find the whole idea demeaning and insulting. To be fair, "back of the bus" doesn't carry the same ugly racial and social overtones in Israel that it does in the United States -- so it may only be my cultural biases that cause me to react so... viscerally to this idea. And, nonetheless, while I try to be dan l'kaf z'chus whenever possible, I'm finding it very hard to see this other than as a means to denigrate women. Women and men travel together on public transportation all over the world in many cities without nary a problem of impropriety. Why can't the hareidim in Israel be expected to behave any better than a subway rider in New York City?

The Wolf


Child Ish Behavior said...

"You should be like the head and not like the tail" If the women are sent to the back of the bus, won't they be like the tail? Isn't this exactly what is wanted the gender created from man's rib should not be considered in the same class as the man himself.

Just as Chava tempted man with the apple so too the entertainment devices tempt people to eat spoiled tomatoes. Ban them both, especially the poisoned tomatoes.

The Hedyot said...

There’s another likely outcome that you didn’t consider: People who previously would have seen such a device in the store, and simply thought to themselves, “Oh , that’s neat, another hi tech gadget on the market. What will they think of next?” will now see the item and instead think to themselves, “Oh... there’s a new way for me to secretly get all sorts of forbidden content! Oh wow...I wonder what sorts of stuff I can sneak in...Oh no, my yetzer hara is getting the better of me!”
In other words, they are creating a temptation where it previously would not have existed. Just like they do when they make women on busses objects of desire, and women driving cars, and women shopping in stores, and cellphones, and everyday internet usage, and every other thing which they forbid in this way. It’s a self-inflicted temptation.

It’s amazing how people who think of themselves as more refined and godly often seem to be the most uncontrollably lascivious of anyone I’ve ever met.

Jerry said...

This is the same debate secular society is having about sex ed in schools-

Do we educate for abstinance, or assume the kids are going to do it anyway, and teach them how to prevent STDs?